Monday, October 31, 2005

We're back home safe and sound

We made our epic journey to Salisbury, saw all the sights and made it home again. We'll get the photos sorted and so on and give you the whole scoop! Highlights include a 25-mile bus trip to Avebury, which took 2 hours; multiple pubs in Salisbury which didn't allow kids in, or didn't have food on weekends, leaving us to eat at Burger King and Pizza Hut; taking the sock to Stonehenge and then forgetting to take its picture among the stones; getting to the Postal Museum in Bath just as the woman was locking the door, and much more!
Now I have to get the kids off to school, do tons of laundry, and wonder what our neighbourhood here will do on Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's Fall

The mornings are getting chilly and misty. The apples are ripe (unfortunately, these are not our apples, but we visited with them the other day, and brought home a bagful) and winter woollies will be needed soon!

So, I've started on a sweater in Summer Tweed for myself! This should take forever, perhaps till next spring, since I'm turning it into a faux Fassett and making diamonds of colour all over it. I've done almost two full rows of diamonds and have done enough funny things with my colour changes that I'm thinking of turning it into a Drunken Argyle. Here is an early and bad flash picture, with the colours looking rather gaudy and all, but you can see the tangle I'm getting myself into. And this is just the first piece, a measly few inches of sleeve! How long before I decide this is just a cuff design, and make the rest of the sweater horizontal stripes??

Next week we are off on holiday again. One thing I love about the British schools is their custom of a week off here and there for "half-term." So we will be in Salisbury, seeing the church and its spire, and Stonehenge and other old rocks, and since the whole area used to be home to wealthy wool merchants, perhaps we'll find a nice yarn shop or two. Certainly I expect sheep. Actually, we have a bundle of things planned, but are attempting to keep it simple and relaxed. Ha. But we may even go away without the Mac, if that's possible! So I may be out of touch till Halloween!

I'm not taking the new sweater on holiday, either!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

FOs all over the place

Part of my preparation for the knitted wedding was of course to pick something to knit on the train ride to London. I had this handspun mohair/silk (if I remember correctly) which I bought at a craft market on Hornby Island a couple of summers ago. I was going to put it in The Sweater That Makes Me Sneeze, but then decided I'd like to use it on its own. I think it was not that expertly spun, as it kept twisting around itself, and I also think it was dyed first and then spun, leaving little candy-cane twists where the red meets the green. And that's all I can tell you about spinning! I started it days before I even got on the train (just to try it out, you know) and since there wasn't all that much yarn in the skein, finished it in time for Katherine to wear it to the wedding. It's my approximation of this scarf. Through the wonders of blocking, it now wraps cosily around my neck, but it's about the shortest scarf around!

The rest of the day I knit on this multidirectional scarf, in weirdo variegated 100% nylon. I like the faded-jeans look of it, but wonder what one will actually do with a nylon scarf! Just decorative, I suppose. We shall see. I think I'll just keep this around for future train knitting... It's quite fun so far to see the short rows actually work out. I have three balls of this yarn, so the scarf promises to be long enough!

And this cushion cover is from the yarn that I bought at Loop in London. Take three skeins of Colinette Point Five, make an envelope, shove a pillow form in. Three buttons and you're done. I really like the colours. Poopedy green is an old fave of mine, but I wouldn't have thought to add the peachy pinks in with it.

It is apparently Knitting Week here in the UK. The department store is having knitting classes and a knitathon tomorrow to knit squares for a charity blanket. And I've heard of a gang that gets together Thursday afternoons, so maybe I'll give that a try today.

I brought home Mary Poppins on DVD from the library the other day, and the kids have been downright reluctant to watch it for some reason, so I thought I'd watch it myself since I'd paid for it and all. This time I noticed that the family lives on a street with a hexagonal Victorian pillar box, and the bank the dad works in is surprisingly similar to Gringotts! I wonder if they were filmed in the same place, or if there is a plethora of big banks like that!
Our family lore says that when Mary Poppins first came out, my big sister took me to see it. She was maybe 18 and I was maybe 5. And at the end of the movie I just cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried, because Mary Poppins goes away, you see. Well, since I was all alone here yesterday, no one need ever know what happened, but I tell ya, that's about the most dreadful ending in all cinema... just ... dreadful...

I did manage to pick out the great dance scenes and once the kids saw the chimneysweeps, they gladly watched other snippets. That Dick Van Dyke could sure dance, eh? Sigh.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Lotsa love and laughs in London

Ah, Sirdar Bubbly, 2005, a very fine wine... This was some of the spread at the knitted wedding I went to yesterday! It was a fantastic thing, a good time with a great bunch of people -- creative, thoughtful and friendly! I really wish Freddie and Ben all the best... I'd never laid eyes on these people before the wedding, but I had a great time and everyone seemed to be quite at ease with a bunch of knitters taking pictures and knitting through the ceremony and throwing pompoms around!

(I've made all the pictures small; just click to see a big version!)

Let's start at the beginning: I had to get up early-ish to catch a train. Usually when I travel I have gone by plane, which means that if you're leaving at 9:01, you have to be checking in at 7, get the cab at 6:15, so you have to be up with the sun. But in fact, if you get a train, you can run onto the platform at 8:56 and still get on and get a seat. Whatever, I got up way early, got out the door, found the bank machine and got to the bus stop about an hour before the train was to leave. Good thing, because after about 3 seconds I realised there are no buses running in Cambridge at 8 am on a Sunday! So I walked across town and actually just missed the 8:30 train! So all worked out just fine...

I met Katherine at Kings Cross, where I did find Platform 9 3/4, and a gaggle of muggles trying to get the cart through the wall. Katherine and I took a wee detour up to Loop, an amazing yarn store full of all sorts of wonders. I hemmed and hawed over this recycled cotton yarn from K1C2 but none of the colours did it for me. I finally came out with 3 hanks of Point Five in Castagna and two balls of Opal sock yarn. When in the store I overheard some people say they'd come down from Cambridge, and it turned out they were in town for the wedding, too! I wonder if I can meet up with them on one of their knitting nights, but it won't happen this week.

Barry drove us to Battersea Park, and we knew we were in the right place when we came upon this tombstone/recipe, and garlands of pompoms on the fence. The ushers had knitted bowties and pompoms in their buttonholes.
And when I got to the knitted glitter ball, I was *sure* I was in the right place. Must make one! The picture's not great, but it's knitted of silvery ribbony shiny stuff with little round mirrors stuck on. Splendid!

It was hard to get good pictures of all the decorations. The wedding was in a smallish square room, and there was a balcony around, where most of the hangers-on stood, and looked straight down on the proceedings. There were garlands of pompoms and knitted birds, there were little offerings of knitted vegetables and some mice and a hedgehog! There were three sets of rings, one of which was sitting on a little cushion that I had made and sent in. When I was thinking what to do, I saw some golden sparkly yarn and thought "I must knit shoes out of that!" but realised I couldn't do that... so I bought some nice colours of tapestry wool and made a little cushion with tiny mitered squares.
And here it is with two golden i-cord rings, along with some bouquets and another little case with very lovely silvery rings.

We all ooooh'd and aaaaah'd for a while, and knit, and chatted, and then the ceremony began. These people had been married before and were renewing their vows. I wonder if one of the toddlers in the crowd was theirs, as there was a distinct Dr Seuss element to the whole thing! "I will take her for my wife, I will love her all my life." "I will love him when we're rich, and when we're poor and in a ditch."

One of the bridesmaids continued to sew white squares to the bride's train during the ceremony.

The official photographer, I suppose, with his multiple cameras, one knitted!

And finally, outside for the pompom confetti, a quick beer in the sunshine, the cutting of the
cake and then a dance under the glitter ball! Here are the happy couple with their friendly chimneysweep, (and you can spot me and Kath in the crowd behind) and the marvellous cake, complete with knitted knife!

After all the fun and games, we did a bit of sight-seeing, crossing the Millennium Bridge and having a cuppa at the Tate Modern before heading back to the train.

This morning we realised there was no bread, so I had to go take my jar of jam to the store, buy bread and a banana, sit outside the school making a sandwich, and take it in to Elaine so she wouldn't starve at lunchtime! The troubles that happen when Mommy goes to town for a day!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

It's done at last!

Hooray! It's a little shorter than perfect, but it's fine, it's comfy, and it's done. He has Somewhere To Go next week, so I made that a deadline, coz otherwise it could have sat around for another 6 months. I started this "quick, simple" cardigan in the spring of 2004, and missed a birthday, Xmas, and another birthday! Ah well, I'm glad to get it over with. And if things go the usual way, he'll wear it for years!
I ordered a pattern from Rowan yesterday, which they are supposed to e-mail to me, and it hasn't come yet. How long can it take for them to e-mail me a file? I was somewhat embarassed to buy a pattern for a simple raglan pullover, but I figure if someone else has figured out how many Summer Tweed stitches I need in the sleeves, I'm willing to pay, rather than spend the time anguishing about it.
Onward -- you'll see that pink cardigan finished in no time!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Something got finished!

I actually finished something! But wait, you say, that is not a pink cotton cardigan, nor is it a sweater for your husband! What's going on? Well, I am going to London this weekend and going to the Knitted Wedding, and when I e-mailed to say I was coming, I asked about hats, and was encouraged to have a wild hat. But I don't actually have a proper hat, so I made this headband from Kureyon scraps, and I hope it is the right mix of kooky and ... whatever else. It certainly is knitted, that I can tell you! I started with a white band, but once the flowers got going, I realized it was not right and got the grey/black out. What a fine thing to have a bag of tiny little bits of Kureyon... I might even make more doodads for it, who knows...
And about the husband-sweater... All the big pieces have been made for months. I'm sure I was stuck for several weeks wondering if boy buttonholes go on the left or the right. Now that I'm actually doing it, it's insanely boring, and I still have about a meter to go, with buttonholes now!
Mere days before we left Toronto, I was looking at this mostly-finished project and at my unused yarn. I had a bit of a ball and three full 100-g balls of Cotton Fleece, and I knew that was at least two and a half too many, but I couldn't be sure exactly. So I took back 2 balls to the yarn store (exchanging them, as a matter of fact, for the pink cotton!) and kept the third, just in case, and lo and behold, I will need it! Imagine if I'd got this far and then ran out! Phew, I say.
The other knitting in that picture is TSTMMS, or The Sweater That Makes Me Sneeze. I really want to knit it, but it really does make me ill. Maybe a dust mask... I just took it out to admire it, and maybe to knit just a few rows, to reward myself if I ever finish this dang buttonband!

Two old cars. Both Morrises, but the one on the right is a woody! A real woody-wagon with real wood trim! I love it, and we'd spotted it before, but on a camera-less day. I think I will not become a regular photographer of interesting cars, but will stick with post boxes! One eccentricity at a time.

Nor do I have ambitions to take pictures of wildlife, though I saw a bird I wanted to take a picture of the other day. It was lovely with black and white markings and very striking, and I now think it was a magpie. Not thrilling for a real bird enthusiast, I'm sure, but it was very pretty.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Steamin' and swimmin'

Sunday was a lovely sunny day and we went to the Museum of Technology, housed in the Victorian steam pump building. There are two enormous steam engines which used to power pumps, to get the town's sewage up the hill a bit! Cambridge was notorious for its stinky river and sewage-filled ditches, and this pumping station was working till the 1960s! Now the engines are all shiny and polished, but they weren't running because a boiler is being refurbished, and no one was very forthcoming about when it might be done. But, this weekend was a model railway weekend, and so there were things like this, a tiny steam-powered train. The water is boiled by burning butane/propane rather than coal, but
the steam actually pushes the wheels around! There were also people from the model bus collecting camp and the Meccano masterpieces camp, and people who had small working steam trains that they could actually ride. This fellow had a little train you can see in the background, and he sat on top of it and rode it back and forth along a small line, and the mini-truck in the foreground that he just stoked and polished and oiled, but it never moved, that we could tell. Lovingly looked after, these machines! There was also a full-sized truck, driven by steam. Because it is a technology museum and not just a steam museum, they also have an amazing collection of printing paraphanalia! Type of all sorts and sizes in wide flat type drawers, printing presses big and small, as well as old telephones, radios and whatever you could ask for! It's all volunteer run and so quite informal and chatty, and the people do seem to like showing these things off.

And speaking of collecting things and showing them off, here is my latest post box, and it has a sad tale! This George VI wall box is down on Mill Road, and the big ugly sign on it says it will be removed! Outrage! Do you suppose they auction them off or something? Look, dear, at the little souvenir I picked up!

We also finally checked out the local pool, which is fantastic! There is a wee shallow warm pool for the little ones, with slides and water jets and all sorts of fun things. Then they have a diving pool, which of course is very deep, but Arthur tells us that that is where his school has swimming lessons, because the floor is adjustable! Have you ever heard of such a thing? When we went it was 4 meters deep, but it must be about 1 meter when he goes. Maybe the floor is just a sort of mesh screen that goes up and down? Who knows? And there is a big pool for swimming lengths and fooling around, which was really too deep for the kids in most parts, but they had all sorts of kick boards and big floating mats. The drawback: over £10 for a family of 4 to go for a swim! That's more than $20! So we can't do that on a regular basis, though I will investigate season passes and such.

The knitting is proceding apace. I was so thrilled to make visible progress on the pink cardigan, but getting from 363 stitches to seventy-something is taking some time. I have decided I need to knit a hat for the knitted wedding, and so must come up with something for that, and Stephen will be needing his sweater next week, and really, if I sit down and do it, it'll get done, but somehow there is always something more fun to do than knit a buttonband...
The kids are getting creative, too. First we have Bread Man, made by Arthur with the help of black food colouring!

He was quite delicious, and so handsome, too. And we have the dog, courtesy of Elaine. If you click and see the big picture, you can see the little tail-wagging thingies!
And last but not least, my parents sent on my ribbon from the fair!

And now I have to unclog the sink so I can get back into the laundry groove!